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October 31, 2011

Some quick thoughts on free agency, the Orioles, the GM search and the fashionable Mr. Jones

With the World Series over, baseball now turns its attention to free agency, which officially begins Thursday (although the Orioles still have their attention partially turned to their general manager search).

Don’t expect any big names to come off the board on Thursday, however. That’s not how this system works. A few solid players may sign in the next couple days after Thursday and a few others will sign before the winter meetings in early December. But the majority waits until the winter meetings or the two weeks leading up until Christmas.

Officially 148 players filed for free agency this weekend. The Orioles will be linked to about 142 of them before the end of January. And we’ll chase down about 140 of those rumors.

Here are two that the Orioles almost certainly won’t be pursuing: Their own, designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero and shortstop Cesar Izturis. Both Guerrero and Izturis were popular in the clubhouse and proved to be excellent teammates.

But the Orioles don’t want to be handcuffed with a designated hitter only this season – so you can figure Guerrero is gone. Izturis had a lost season in 2011 and really has no spot on this club next year. But if he has no spot in big-league baseball, the Orioles would love to have him back in the organization as a coach/instructor. Buck Showalter, among others, really admired the way Izturis handled himself and dealt with teammates, especially the Latin players.

The power in my house was out for over 24 hours this weekend. Crazy. Not having power in October, I felt like the Philadelphia Phillies (ba dump bump. Tip your waiters).

Speaking of the Phillies, I have been asked to predict the early favorite for the 2012 baseball season. And I am sticking with the Phillies. I understand they may lose several key players such as Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Madson, and Ryan Howard will start the season on the disabled list. But I look at that starting pitching and still see 90-plus wins. And the postseason is a crapshoot.

One quick mention on the Orioles’ GM search: When Jerry Dipoto decided to join the Los Angeles Angels, I wrote that that probably made Toronto’s Tony LaCava the favorite for the Orioles job.

Remember, I’m just handicapping these things, but I don’t know what the search committee is thinking. I clarify that because the assumption was made that the Orioles lost their No. 1 choice to the Angels, and some fans are hammering them for that.

But Dipoto being the favorite was simply speculation. I’ve been told by people who know a little better than I do, that although Dipoto was highly considered, he wasn’t necessarily the leader in the clubhouse for the job. In fact, I am getting the sense that it’s very possible LaCava – or maybe someone else – would be offered the position even if Dipoto were still available.

So if I led you astray on my speculation – sorry.

Here’s a bit more speculation: Take it for what it is worth, but I would be surprised if this job isn’t filled this week. I’ve learned over the years, however, that I shouldn’t put a timetable on the Orioles. Because I never speculate on that one correctly.

One last item: Orioles center fielder Adam Jones is now the brand ambassador for Five Four clothing line. Here is a link to his photo shoot:

Posted by Dan Connolly at 11:15 AM | | Comments (9)


I think Showalter is the manager we've needed for years and I think Angelos has finally found the right manager that he's willing to open the checkbook for. It's been obvious that Angelos has given Showalter all the power he wants/needs, so whoever the new GM is will absolutely work WITH Showalter, not against him.

I am of the mindset that it would be stupid for Baltimore NOT to make a real offer (as opposed to a crappy one no one takes seriously) to Prince Fielder. Yes, we need pitching. But I'm also of the mindset that our young arms will be back with a vengeance next season.

Everyone who says Prince doesn't want to be on a last place team in the AL EAST... well, (a) I don't think we'll finish in last place next year and (b) starting in 2013 MLB will be going back to two 15 team leagues. Why is that important? Because we won't have to play BOS/NYY/TB about a 100 times each. Because there won't be set divisions, it seems likely that every team will play the other 14 teams pretty evenly, give or take a few games. This is only good news for the Orioles.

Also, going back to Prince Fielder, I think he'd shine in Baltimore. Everything I've heard about his service in the community to his personality to his teammates loving him to death, he would be a wonderful addition to the city of Baltimore. His contract would need stipulations and clauses, such as: he'd get an additional $500,000 for every time he hits the warehouse on a home run. RF in TINY and we all know Prince's power.

Showalter and Angelos are taking the club in the right direction. Now we need the GM that will help them progress this team to where we all know it can be.

Free Agency begins on Thursday, but I guarantee the Orioles won't make a major move until after mid December.

If Lacava becomes the GM, that's the guy I was hoping for all along. So maybe he can make a strong impression this offseason. At least he'll have a clean slate.

They need to get their house in order before free agency starts. The longer the process drags on the less optimistic I'll be about things getting better around here. The big name guys don't sign early but a lot of the player that can be added for depth in the organization will go fairly quickly. Not to mention the new GM needs to bring his own guys in and get a game plan together. They need to get it done this week

Guerrero could return. My wife reads Spanish and says he has a new workout program, so maybe he'll be in better shape (though one wonders about his knees anyway). Lots of teams need hitting, after all. Still wonder why Ng hasn't been offered a position.

It would be fitting for the Orioles to not have their top executive in place by Thursday, the true start of the off season.

This team has been slow to act on everything over the past decade, so why would they worry about making anything happen too quickly this winter?

Dipoto probably asked for some degree of autonomy, which came off as an insult To Peter Angelos, who has really been the GM since he fired Frank Wren. Angelos has, and will continue to run the organization into the ground

I see where the Orioles are bringing back the cartoon bird logo. That's quite fitting because the organization is the biggest joke in baseball.

I agree, let Vlad and Izturis go.
One name I feel the O's should chase is Aramis Ramirez who just opted out. Love this time of the year, let the hot stove and debates begin!

About the best the O's can expect is Jake Westbrook, Jason Marquis, Dontrelle Willis, Brad Penney, and Kevin Millwood for this cheapskate owner to sign as aces for 2012. Don't get your hope up too high!

Expect some real surprises for this cheapskate owner to sign such stars as: Lyle Overbay, Jack Wilson, Dontrelle Willis, Kevin Millwood, Jason Michaels, Russell Branyan, Mark Kotsay, Wily Mo Pena, Alex Cora, Pat Burrell, Adam Kennedy, and the slick fielding third baseman Jerry Harrison, Jr.

Exciting, huh?

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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